Steve Jobs, legendary CEO of Apple (formerly Apple Computer), has been described as a master of RDF. The Reality Distortion Field is an attempt to describe his power to say everything and nothing in a keynote speech and have people spend hours in bliss before they begin to realize what they didn't hear. Tuesday's keynote speech at Macworld 2007 is a prime example.
Opening with a report of amazing continued success with the iTunes Music Store, Jobs announced that Paramount movies will now be available for purchase.
The Apple TV (previously code-named "iTV") will be shipping in February, and contains everything previously announced and a little more. It has an internal hard disk and syncs with one Mac and can accept streaming content from up to five others.
Then the iPhone is announced, and the markets go wild. Rim (makers of the BlackBerry) and Palm stock plummeted as Apple stock soared. Listening to the speech, it is easy to think that this isn't really a phone, but a new Mac in a tiny form factor. It runs OS X, the operating system that powers my iMac and my wife's MacBook! It's got a lot of custom software and an intriguing touch interface, as well as some other nice bells and whistles, but isn't it really a full-fledged hand-held computer?
No, it's not.
First let's talk about what wasn't announced. No new software whatsoever. No iLife '07, no iWork '07, no OS X "Leopard," nothing. Does this mean we won't see these updates? No, it means that this show was about one thing only: the iPhone.
There were other brief announcements. Jobs did counter the rumor that the iTunes Store had seen a slowdown in sales. It may have seen a slowdown in traffic — which is what the rumor was based on — but sales continue to rise steadily. Jobs also announced the Paramount partnership, and as the first movie company in which Jobs doesn't hold 7% of the stock, that's a good sign. Jobs also provided a bit more detail — and a release date — for the Apple TV, which he announced last year. But that's it. Everything else — eighty minutes of the 108-minute speech — was about the iPhone.
It's interesting to speculate about the choices that went into this announcement, but so far, that's all it is — speculation. Would Jobs have announced Paramount if he had not needed to address the iTunes slowdown rumor? Would the Apple TV have made the schedule had they not pre-announced it last year? Did they pre-announce it last year because they weren't ready to announce anything else?